Rumours of his hiring had been circulating for days and the club made an official announcement via its Twitter account at 11:01 a.m. EST morning.
Alonso arrives in Vice City with an already impressive list of trophies and accomplishments which he will certainly be looking to add to with the Rosanegro
For starters, Alonso is the only person to have coached two different teams to Concacaf titles and he’s now the second coach in MLS to have won that tournament before.
“In Diego we found a manager that fits our culture and has a strong desire to build a winning club for our fans. He brings a lot of experience and championship-winning mentality as we begin our drive to be among the best clubs in the Americas,” Inter Miami sporting director Paul McDonough said. “We have big aspirations for our club and believe Diego has the right drive, passion and leadership to accomplish our goals.”
Clubs approach to its USL Championship club seen as a model
MIAMI, Fla. (December 18, 2019) —
Real Monarchs SLC, the second team of MLS club Real Salt Lake, recently won the USL Championship with an impressive 3-1 away victory over Louisville City FC. That result was unexpected, both because of Louisville’s impressive record at home and the fact that they were the two-time defending champions of the USL Championship. They are also one of the most successful independent teams in the USL Championship, with highly engaged fans, active community involvement and a metro government that fully supports the club. In all respects, Louisville has been a model market and team for USL.
By way of a little further background, the USL is comprised both of independent clubs and clubs owned by or affiliated with MLS clubs. The future of the so-called “MLS2” sides in the USL Championship, which constitutes the second division of US Soccer, is currently very much unclear.
The Monarchs’ title took place just a few months after a report circulated that the USL was looking into repositioning all of the MLS-affiliated clubs (colloquially known as “2” teams) out of the Championship and into USL League One, the third division of US Soccer, as soon as 2021. Indeed, the two newest MLS2 teams for next season, New England Revolution 2 and Inter Miami CF 2, will be starting play in USL One.
One of the biggest factors where the disparity between MLS2 teams and independent clubs is on full display is match attendance. Nine of the 10 lowest-drawing sides are MLS-owned. When New York Red Bulls II hosted fellow playoff contender Saint Louis FC in early August, the announced attendance was just 756 fans, which was not far off their season average of 852. The Monarchs’ relatively low 1,983 fans per game made them the second-highest drawing affiliate club (28th in the USL Championship).
Putting attendance aside, naturally, independent clubs organise themselves somewhat differently from MLS owned clubs. But even within the category of MLS2 clubs, there are different philosophies. The Real Salt Lake approach its MLS2 team exhibits more of a hybrid approach. What follows is a discussion of their approach.
The Real Salt Lake Approach To The MLS2 Team
The approach Real Salt Lake takes with its MLS2 side, Real Monarchs could be considered a model of how to organise an MLS2 side, and a “best case” scenario for other MLS2 clubs to borrow from.
The main differentiator is that the first and second teams work in tandem with one another, with plenty of cohesion in training and in style. At other clubs, the MLS and USL sides often train at separate times. Not so in Salt Lake City. By working together every day and having greater movement of players between the two sides, the club ensures that its players have a more cohesive understanding of Real Salt Lake’s philosophy on the pitch at all levels. Midfielder Justin Portillo was a prime example of this, making the RSL matchday roster for 19 matches and the Monarchs’ squad on 16 occasions during the 2019 season.
The results on the pitch suggest that this type of approach to training and having players who can rotate between the MLS and USL sides benefits both squads. Case in point: In MLS, Real Salt Lake finished third in the Western Conference despite firing their coach and their general manager midseason, and they won their first playoff match, against Portland. One rung below in the USL Championship, the Monarchs finished fourth in the conference, then beat top-seed Phoenix Rising, El Paso and then Louisville City to take the title.
While most affiliates have underwhelmed by second-division standards, the Monarchs are among the league’s best clubs — 2 team or otherwise.
“We’re a fully professional second division team,” RSL assistant GM Dan Egner said in an interview before the USL Championship match. Egner serves as the general manager of the USL side. “We have 30 guys on our MLS roster and we have 20 guys on our USL roster. We view that as having one roster of 50 guys — I think that’s a little different than how a lot of people look at it. When that report came out, it was concerning because we think being in the Championship is of the utmost importance for what we’re trying to do. It’s not to say that League One can’t get there; we just don’t feel that it’s there right now. We’re extremely happy with what the Championship provides us.”
Secondly, Real Salt Lake sees Real Monarchs as being a place to develop promising players and to obtain a benefit if or when those players are later transferred. An example of this also happened this last season. Stanley Okumu, a 21-year old centre back who had signed with the Monarchs midway through the 2018 season, was really finding his form in 2019 and was gaining key minutes in the starting eleven for the Monarchs.
Okumu’s good form caught the attention of the selectors of his national team, and he was called up to the Kenya roster for the 2019 African Cup of Nations. He started all three group-stage matches in a group that featured eventual champions Algeria and tournament favourites Senegal. His performance did not go unnoticed. In late August, Okumu secured a transfer to Swedish Allsvenskan side IF Elfsborg. Real Monarchs collected a $200,000 fee as part of the transaction, which was a nice profit — Real Salt Lake had signed him in 2018 on a free transfer from NPSL club AFC Ann Arbor. The club saw the deal as a validation of their ability to develop promising players — even those who do not come through the RSL Academy.
Real Salt Lake could have just moved Okumu up to the first team, since it was clear he was capable of playing at a higher level than the USL Championship. But RSL was already strong at the centre back position, with four capable players on the senior team: Homegrown former U.S. youth international Justen Glad, former Queens Park Rangers anchor Nedum Onuoha, Marcelo Silva and homegrown Erik Holt.
It was at this point that the closeness of the MLS and USL technical staffs resulted in a decision that benefitted both Okumu as well as Real Salt Lake. “After AFCON, we talked to the first-team coaching staff about where we saw Stanley falling in the next six months, even 18 months,” Egner said. “Realistically, his best-case scenario had him as the MLS team’s third centre back. Is that good for Stanley financially? Obviously, an MLS deal is better than his Monarchs’ (deal). But the playing time doesn’t really change because, inevitably, you’re playing the same USL games (on loan from the MLS side). If we could move him somewhere else, that’s going to benefit him and us. He performed very well at AFCON — he was arguably Kenya’s best player, and they were in the toughest group. When the Sweden move became tangible, we acted on it. For us, that move and the news that it made, and the (club) record (transfer fee), the history that it made was more significant for us than him becoming our third centre back.”
A third different way of managing is that the USL Monarchs deploy academy graduates alongside more experienced players in the starting lineup. This is something not widely done on MLS2 sides. After Okumu left for Sweden, homegrown defender Erik Holt made the most of his opportunities, scoring the conference-clinching goal against El Paso Locomotive. Next to him were a pair of USL veterans: 27-year-old Konrad Plewa (formerly of Red Bulls II and Saint Louis FC) and 28-year-old Kalen Ryden (Oklahoma City Energy and the NASL’s Jacksonville Armada).
Fourth, Real Salt Lake and Monarchs work together when an MLS veteran needs playing time to regain form and view it as an opportunity for the younger players on the USL side to interact and see how the older veteran structures his training and carries himself as a professional footballer. This past season, veteran RSL midfielder Luke Mulholland is an example. At 31, he’s the team’s eldest field player by a comfortable margin.
“Naturally, I would have preferred to play a lot of games with the first team,” Mulholland said. “Opportunities were very slim. We’re only happy when you’re playing, you know. It’s an RSL family all under one roof, so I have the ability to make the first team roster one week and drop down to play a game with the Monarchs in the next. I’m in a good position to get some games under my belt and get back into a rhythm of grinding for 90 minutes. That’s what I missed the most.” Mulholland not only regained form but was a key contributor for the Monarchs. He played 12 games for the Monarchs including their postseason run. Their record: 11 wins, one draw, zero defeats. He put in a man-of-the-match-caliber performance in Louisville.
The 31-year-old Englishman had been a fixture in Major League Soccer over the past few years, having made 123 MLS appearances, 97 of them starts. However, the midfielder only had two first team appearances in 2018, and it was Mulholland himself who asked to be placed on the Monarchs. The USL side had the room and since Mulholland would not be preventing a younger player at that position from getting playing time, they agreed. It paid dividends for the Real Monarchs. “I constantly kept asking my coaching staff [to play with the Monarchs],” said Mulholland. “The only way I can help the first team is if I can gain some form and rhythm with the Monarchs so every three weeks or so I’d ask to go down and play for them. And then, I just started to get in a good rhythm with the Monarchs, so it felt great. It always feels good to get 90 minutes under your belt and continuously playing week-in, week-out.” Mulholland was a key contributor for the Monarchs in the USL Championship Playoffs, playing all but 15 minutes as the side navigated its way past Orange County SC, Regular Season Title-Winner Phoenix Rising FC and El Paso Locomotive FC to earn a place in the final.
Fifth, the Monarchs’ approach is to split the minutes between veterans and academy graduates. MLS2 sides have a reputation for sacrificing quality in order to develop younger talent, and the Monarchs’ approach is a contrasting one. In their estimation, splitting the minutes can help accomplish quicker development. They believe it is the best of both philosophies in the USL.
“I don’t say this in a negative way, but we don’t really compare ourselves to other 2 clubs because we feel we’re the only MLS club taking this approach,” Egner said. “That’s not to say that anyone’s approach is right or wrong, but we’re the only one taking the approach that we are. It’s not really fair for us to compare ourselves to them, because they have different motives, a different model. When it comes to independent clubs, we want to beat them. For us, the measuring stick is the independent clubs and how our guys stack up to them. In the last few years, we’re right up there with them.”
Real Monarch players are made aware right off the bat that the club has three objectives, each with equal importance. The first is to help the players get to the first team. The second, should a player not make the MLS roster, is to help them earn another professional contract in a good situation. The third is to win — no matter the opponent or setting.
The first point of the club’s vision shows that while they take a balanced approach, is doesn’t come at the expense of the developmental component. Even in this title-winning season, homegrown players like Holt, U.S. U-20 goalkeeper David Ochoa, and 22-year-old striker Douglas Martínez, an international for Honduras, all played leading roles. Competing against Championship opponents has helped all three to grow in 2019, and each could take on a key role for RSL in the future.
Success is usually emulated, so if Real Monarchs can continue to achieve in the USL Championship, expect more MLS clubs to take notice and set up their MLS2 sides in similar fashion, whether those sides ultimately reside in the second or third division.
(Cover Photo: David R. Lutman/Special To Courier Journal)
Draft will take place on Thursday, January 9, 2020
New scouting opportunity set for Dec 13-15, 2019
MIAMI, Fla. (December 13, 2019) —
The details for the 2020 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas were released today. The draft will take place on Thursday, Jan. 9 at 12 p.m. ET.
Some changes were also announced by the league. The draft is evolving in 2020 to streamline the draft process and provide fans with an innovative experience in collaboration with media partners ESPN and Twitter.
MLS and ESPN to collaborate on new draft presentation;
Embedded cameras and real-time reactions to amplify 2020 SuperDraft presented by adidas;
A new 2019 adidas MLS College Showcase is added to scout top college prospects. It will take place Dec. 13-15 in Raleigh, N.C.
The 2020 SuperDraft presented by adidas will be conducted during a jointly produced MLS and ESPN show. The show will stream live on Twitter, with a Twitter Event Card that includes the live stream and real-time highlights from the event all in one comprehensive experience. The live stream will feature cameras embedded with players and club decision-makers for real-time draftee reactions, live look-ins on club draft rooms, and instant engagement from fans on Twitter during the first round. Additional content and analysis will be provided across MLS league and club digital and social channels. The 2020 SuperDraft presented by adidas will also stream live on the ESPN App, YouTube and Facebook.
The 2020 MLS expansion clubs will have the top selections in the draft, with Inter Miami CF owning two of the top three picks, the first and third picks overall, and Nashville SC selecting second overall.
“The MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas is an important opportunity for MLS clubs to acquire top talent from the collegiate game as well as promising youth internationals,” said J. Todd Durbin, MLS Executive Vice President, Competition & Player Relations.
“The new format will enhance the experience for players and fans, while maintaining the traditional competitive aspects of the SuperDraft.”
The SuperDraft will be conducted in four rounds with 26 players selected in each round. To streamline the process, clubs now will be permitted three minutes, instead of four in previous years, to make their player selections, and there will be no intermission between rounds.
Complete 2020 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas Rules and Procedures, are available on Russo Law and Soccer: CLICK HERE.
The eligible player list for the 2020 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas will be announced on Monday, Dec. 30, following the 2019 adidas MLS College Showcase.
MLS College Showcase (Dec. 13-15) — A new scouting opportunity
The 2019 adidas MLS College Showcase is a three-day event in Raleigh, N.C., where technical staffs from every MLS club will have an opportunity to scout the top collegiate prospects in the nation, including players with remaining NCAA eligibility. The event will feature approximately 40 top college players, ranging from freshmen to seniors, participating in a series of training sessions, testing, interviews, and match play. This event will allow MLS technical staffs to interact with potential SuperDraft selections earlier in their collegiate careers without jeopardizing players’ collegiate eligibility.
The 2019 adidas MLS College Showcase occurs in conjunction with the 2019 Men’s College Cup and is a closed-door scouting event officially sanctioned by the NCAA.
Note that Homegrown-eligible underclassmen players – young talents developed by MLS club academies – will not participate in the 2019 adidas MLS College Showcase.
As club struggles on the pitch, the chairman is embroiled in a dispute with players that has drawn the attention of the Italian and International Player Associations.
What is the limit of an owner’s authority over matters relating to players?
NAPOLI (December 10, 2019) —
Last week, Napoli chairman and owner Aurelio De Laurentiis told reporters he would sell his entire squad if given the chance, a sure sign the club’s civil war rumbles on. The chairman is reportedly considering cutting his losses and letting some of his best players leave in the winter transfer window.
De Laurentiis, 70, a prominent Italian film producer, has resurrected Napoli since buying them in 2004 after they had been declared bankrupt and relegated to Serie C (the Italian third division). The club basically had to start over again from scratch. The Partenopei have finished second in the race for the Scudetto, the Serie A title, three times in the last four seasons and have played entertaining football throughout that time.
However, he also has a tendency for making incendiary declarations, for falling out with his coaches, — for example Ancelotti’s predecessor Maurizio Sarri — and has a reputation for interfering with the coaching staff’s decisions and player selections. In short, a textbook lesson in what not to do when one owns a professional football club.
Last month, De Laurentiis ordered a seven-day training camp for the players, during which they would not be allowed to go home to their families. Known as a “ritiro,” in Italian, they are used by clubs as a form of punishment for poor performance, and players view them as both demeaning and outdated. The ritiro was organised following Napoli’s defeat to Roma in Serie A on November 2. The players rebelled after the club’s 1-1 draw with Salzburg in the Champions League on the following Tuesday (November 5), going home rather than to the Castel Volturno training facility. De Laurentiis considered it an act of mutiny.
This led to a furious stand-off between the playing staff and De Laurentiis. The club responded to the players’ absence from the retreat with a strongly-worded statement about protecting its rights which implied it would fine the players or even take legal action against them. Napoli’s vice-president, who just happens to be the owner’s son, Edo De Laurentiis, also took a swipe at the squad, claiming they lacked ‘balls’, and called for more ‘honour’ to be given to the ‘shirt and the city’. The fans are angry are both sides and protested in front of the Stadio San Paulo. Things are not harmonious in Napoli.
Napoli head coach Carlo Ancelotti came close to being fired by De Laurentiis (see update below). He denied his squad have turned against him after the club’s winless streak extended to eight matches with a 2-1 defeat to Bologna at home. “I have an excellent relationship with the squad,” Ancelotti told reporters. “No one has ever failed to respect me. I don’t see any friction between the players and us.” That winless streak now stands at nine as Napoli drew 1-1 over the weekend away at Udine.
The pressure continues to mount on Ancelotti as the Partenopei languish seventh in Serie A, 17 points behind leaders Inter and eight adrift of the Champions League places.
“We are all united, we are all suffering in this delicate moment and we all want to resolve these issues together,” Ancelotti said.
Napoli’s results on the pitch reflect the continued internal problems. De Laurentiis went ahead with his threats and imposed fines on the players who refused to report to the training retreat he unilaterally imposed on the players. De Laurentiis fined them up to 50% of their October salaries, with captain Lorenzo Insigne reportedly ordered to pay the most at 350,000 Euros (nearly $400,000), followed by Brazilian defensive midfielder Allan at 150,000 Euros ($165,000). The fines could total 2.5 million Euros ($2.7 million).
The players have also been barred from speaking to the press, with Ancelotti only talking to the media prior to the Champions’ League game against Liverpool because not doing so would have broken UEFA rules. After the earlier Champions League draw with Salzburg, Ancelotti skipped his media duties.
Pressure is mounting on the club externally as well. The Italian Players Association ( l’associazione italiana calciatori, “AIC”) is looking into the situation. Carlo Ancelotti has stated publicly that he was not in agreement with the training camp, and as a result AIC president Damiano Tomassi said “it needs to be understood if and how the request for the training camp was formalized.” Tommasi says “the Napoli situation is a strange one and very unusual.” He added, “We talked about it with the team and put ourselves at the disposal of the Napoli players who will ask for our consultation.”
Napoli’s decision to fine its players for abandoning the in-season training camp ordered by the club owner is also being contested by FIFPro, the Amsterdam-based world players union.
FIFPro released a statement November 30, 2019, outlining its position:
FIFPro said the fines contradicted provisions in Italy’s collective bargaining agreement. “The players of Napoli cannot be subjected to arbitrary decisions of a disenchanted club when the result of a match is unsatisfactory,” FIFPro said.
“Technical matters are not the responsibility of club directors and we support (coach Carlo) Ancelotti and the players of Napoli for their united stand in clearly difficult times,” it said.
The AIC‘s mission is to protect, improve and negotiate the conditions, rights and status of all professional players by collective bargaining agreements. The Accordo Collettivo, or Collective Bargaining Agreement (the “AC”) at issue here is between the FIGC (Federazione Italiana Gioco Calcio, the Lega Nazionale Professionisti Serie A and the AIC.
Clause 10 (Technical Instructions, Obligations and Rules of Behaviour) of the AC appears to place issues such as training within the sporting side of the club. The section states:
10.1. The Player must perform the sporting services within the organisation provided by the Club and in compliance with the technical instructions and other rules laid down for attainment of the competitive objectives.
The above clause, while likely open for interpretation, seems to uphold the argument if FIFPro that training falls under the authority of a club’s technical staff and not ownership or the commercial side of a club. Clause 10 goes on to state:
10.4. The rules pertaining to the Player’s private life are lawful and binding, following acceptance of same by the Player, acceptance which shall not be unreasonably withheld, only where justified by needs of the professional activities to be performed, without prejudice in any event to respect for human dignity.
The AC also has a clause dealing with a player’s contractual rights to a weekly rest day and vacation. (Clause 18). In addition to allowing players four weeks of continuous vacation each year, this section provides:
18.1. The Player is entitled to one rest day every week, normally in the first two days of the week.
At present, it is unclear if the AIC and/or FIFPro will be successful in having the fines overturned and the players paid in accordance with their contracts. The matter could be subject to arbitration if a formal complaint is made by the AIC. Beyond the issue of the authority of a club owner to order the players to a training retreat, it would be hard to argue that such a measure deprived the players of “human dignity.” A request by Russo Soccer for further comment from FIFPro is still pending as of the time of publishing. Further updates on this story will be provided as news becomes available.
EDITOR’S UPDATE: As this article was being finalised, Carlo Anceolotti was fired Tuesday evening, despite Napoli winning their final Champions League group stage match 4-0 over Genk and qualifying for the knockout stage of the competition. He is now a favourite to assume the managerial duties at Everton or Arsenal in the Premier League. Gennaro Gattuso, who was a candidate for the Inter Miami CF manager’s job, will take over at Napoli.
Today marks the beginning of the MLS offseason player movement calendar.
The action will start with a 55-hour window starting at 1 pm ET today in which teams may sign and trade players.
Other important dates include the MLS Expansion Draft on Nov. 19, which you will be able to watch on MLSsoccer.com and the MLS mobile app,
Also, the deadline for clubs to exercise options that are contained in some players’ contracts is on November 21.
For players who qualify, the opening of free agency is on November 25.
You can read more about the rules and procedures surrounding the various drafts, the criteria for qualification and the processes for player movement at the Russo Law and Soccer website. Links are below:
The complete offseason calendar is outlined below:
Nov. 11, 1:00 PM ET
Trade Window Opens Following a 10-week roster freeze, MLS clubs may sign and trade players.
Nov. 13, 8:00 PM ET
Trade Window Closes and Blackout Period Begins Blackout Period begins whereby clubs may no longer sign and/or trade players until conclusion of 2019 Expansion Draft.
Club Deadline to submit Bona Fide Offers MLS clubs notify the League Office in writing of players who have been extended a bona fide offer.
Nov. 19, 5:00 PM ET
2019 MLS Expansion Draft Watch live in the MLS app or on MLSsoccer.com. Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC may select up to five players each from the eligible player list. The list of players eligible for selection in the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft will be released on Nov. 16 at 10:00 AM ET:
Club Deadline to Exercise Options MLS clubs notify the League Office in writing of players whose options they are exercising.
Nov. 25, 3:00 PM ET
End-of-Year Waivers The End-of-Year Waivers process is conducted in reverse order of 2019 season finish, taking into account postseason performance. Per the Expansion Priority Draft, Nashville SC will have the 25th pick and Inter Miami CF will have the final selection in each round.
Eligible for selection are players who do not meet the minimum requirements for Re-Entry Process or Free Agency. The list of players eligible for the End-of-Year Waivers will be released on Nov. 22: End-Of-Year Waivers Rules And Procedures
Nov. 25, 3:00 PM ET
Free Agency Opens Clubs may engage with players, other than their own, that are eligible for Free Agency. Free Agency eligible players are out-of-contract and option-declined players who are at least 28 years old and who have completed a minimum of eight service years. The complete list of Free Agents will be released on Nov. 22.
Nov. 26, 3:00 PM ET
2019 MLS Re-Entry Process – Stage 1 The Re-Entry Process, Stage 2 is conducted in the same format as Stage 1 and consists of MLS players who were not selected in the Stage 1. Not all unselected Stage 1 players will be available for selection as players may re-sign with their previous club between stages or may opt out of the process.
2019 MLS Re-Entry Process – Stage 2 The Re-Entry Process is conducted in reverse order of 2019 season finish, taking into account postseason performance. Per the Expansion Priority Draft, Nashville SC will have the 25th pick and Inter Miami CF will have the final selection in each round.